A new legal brief in Donald Trump’s battle against social media giants makes some novel arguments about the former president as he accuses Twitter and the U.S. government of violating the First Amendment by suppressing misinformation about the Covid-19 pandemic and the 2020 election.
The 96-page filing submitted to the San Francisco-based 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday contends that Twitter and the federal government are working to “suppress opinions and information about matters that Americans consider of vital interest.”
Those matters include the source of the virus that caused the pandemic, the efficacy of Covid-19 vaccines, the validity of the 2020 election results, and the legitimacy of documents from a hard drive allegedly belonging to President Joe Biden’s son Hunter, the court filing says.
The brief likens Trump to Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei, who was persecuted by the Catholic Church for promulgating the belief that the Earth revolved around the sun.
“Most people once believed these to be crackpot ideas; many still do. But crackpot ideas sometimes turn out to be true. The earth does revolve around the sun, and it was Hunter Biden, not Russian disinformation agents, who dropped off a laptop full of incriminating evidence at a repair shop in Delaware,” Trump’s lawyers wrote. “Galileo spent his remaining days under house arrest for spreading heretical ideas, and thousands of dissidents today are arrested or killed by despotic governments eager to suppress ideas they disapprove of. But this is not the American way.”
Trump’s brief also describes as “correct or at least debatable” the notion that the 2020 presidential election was “stolen.”
Taking shots — even legal ones — at Silicon Valley is nothing new for the former president. The new brief came in connection with one of a series of class-action lawsuits he filed last year against social media giants, accusing Twitter, Facebook and YouTube of censoring him and his supporters. In May, a judge dismissed Trump’s suit against Twitter for banning him from the platform, holding that 9th Circuit precedent forecloses the kind of claim Trump is leveling about private parties allegedly carrying out censorship at the behest of the government. The new submission comes on the eve of Trump’s “big announcement” at Mar-a-Lago where he plans to announce a 2024 presidential run.
The filing also comes after Trump welcomed a new lawyer to his team handling the litigation against the social media firms: former 9th Circuit Chief Judge Alex Kozinski. Kozinski stepped down from the bench in 2017 amid investigations of alleged sexual misconduct.
Trump filed the suits in federal court in south Florida, but judges transferred them to northern California under provisions in the companies’ user agreements that funnel such cases to courts near the companies’ headquarters in the San Francisco Bay Area.